What Does Meth Look, Taste, and Smell Like?

Meth is a highly addictive central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that many people abuse for its energetic high. While meth is available by prescription under the name Desoxyn, it is rarely prescribed. Most people who abuse meth are buying it off of the street, putting them at risk of consuming dangerous additives.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 2.5 million people abused meth in 2021.

If you are worried that your loved one is abusing meth, you should be aware of what it looks, tastes, and smells like. Most often, meth looks like a crystal. It tends to have a scent similar to ammonia, however, this can change based on how it is produced.

Meth abuse can lead to a long-term addiction that puts you at risk of several health complications, including life-threatening overdoses. If you or a loved one are a meth user, it’s time to consider attending a substance abuse treatment program.

What Does Meth Look Like?

Most often, meth is found in crystal or powder form. Some people might purchase it in the form of a pill as well.


Crystal meth is the most commonly abused form of meth. Meth addicts tend to prefer this type of meth because it is widely available. It is created by dissolving powdered meth into a solvent.

This type of meth looks similar to broken shards of glass. Depending on how the meth is handled, these shards might be small or large.

Typically, crystal meth is translucent or see-through, but sometimes it appears a bit cloudy. Some people might mix meth with additives that change the color, causing it to appear blue, red, yellow, or other colors.

Most people who abuse crystal meth smoke it. However, some people might snort it or engage in a method of abuse known as “hot-railing.” Hot-railing involves crushing crystal meth up, heating a straight pipe, and snorting the smoke that comes from the powder.


Powder meth is most common among people who snort or inject the drug. This form of meth might appear similar to cocaine. The main difference between powdered meth and cocaine is that the meth is translucent, rather than a shiny white color.

Just like crystal meth, the color of powdered meth can vary. Some meth labs include additives that make it appear bright colors like blue or red.


While it is uncommon to receive a prescription for meth, it does occur. Meth pills are sold under the brand name Desoxyn and are primarily used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This form of meth might be safer than crystal or powder because it is created by a pharmaceutical company, however, you should still avoid abusing it.

Typically, meth pills are white circles with “115” printed on one side. Other pills might have a “54” on one side and “681” printed on the other.

If you come across a meth pill that does not have these markings, it is most likely fake. Drug dealers press fake meth pills to sell them at a cheaper price. These pills can contain dangerous additives and should be avoided at all costs.

What Does Meth Taste Like?

While you should never taste a drug to identify it, it can be helpful to know what meth tastes like. If you accidentally ingest someone’s meth, you should contact emergency medical services for assistance.

Crystal meth tends to have a chemical and bitter taste. However, the substances used to create meth can affect how it tastes. For example, it might taste like paint thinner or cold medicine if those products are used to create it.

Meth tastes bad, so most people do not swallow it. If someone swallows meth, they usually put the crystal or powder into an empty pill capsule. This is known as “parachuting.”

Meth is usually snorted, smoked, or injected.

What Does Meth Smell Like?

Some people claim that meth is odorless. Keeping this in mind, the scent of meth can change based on how it was manufactured.

The most common description of how meth smells is similar to ammonia or cat urine. If someone is actively smoking meth, it might smell sickly sweet and chemical-like.

Examples of what meth might smell like when it is being cooked or smoked include:

  • Ammonia or cat urine
  • Nail polish remover
  • Paint thinner
  • Fertilizer or bug spray
  • Household cleaning products
  • Rotten eggs
  • Burning plastic

Meth can have so many different smells because meth production varies greatly. If you believe someone you love is smoking meth, it’s time to have a conversation about addiction treatment.

How to Tell if Someone is High on Meth

If you believe someone is abusing meth, it can be helpful to know what the signs of meth abuse are. Someone high on meth might seem like they have a lot of energy. They might also experience paranoia or other mental health issues like psychosis.

The effects of meth include:

  • Increased wakefulness and physical activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lessened need for sleep
  • Rapid heart rate and irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Heightened body temperature
  • Chattiness and disorganized speech
  • A rush of euphoria and energy
  • Excessive sweating
  • Itching or believing bugs are crawling under their skin
  • Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia (psychosis)
  • Weird jaw movements

Whether your loved one is smoking, snorting, or injecting meth, professional drug rehab is vital for their safety. At The Best Treatment Center, we can help your loved one regain control over their life.

Find Help for Meth Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one abuse meth, it’s time to seek help. The Best Treatment Center is here to offer a variety of evidence-based therapies, supportive services, and clinically proven treatments for meth addiction.

Contact us today to learn more about our meth addiction treatment center.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.